Hundreds of people in Washington took an extended lunch break for a last-minute protest in front of the White House on Wednesday, a day after President Trump fired FBI Director James B. Comey.
Protesters carried signs scribbled on manila envelopes they grabbed from their offices, calling on the federal government to appoint an independent prosecutor to investigate allegations of collusion between the Trump presidential campaign and the Russian government. Others called for Trump’s impeachment.
“Fire comb-over, not Comey,” read the sign of Bill Wydro, a 71-year-old retired teacher from Rockville.
Martina Leinz, 55, an administrator at Johns Hopkins University’s D.C. campus, said she attended the protest with colleagues during their lunch break.
“I am here because there has never been a point in history when our democracy has been more severely threatened than it is now,” she said. “I think it’s incumbent upon the Republicans in Congress to stand up and fight back to this travesty.”
Organizers of the march delivered muffled speeches during the 90-minute protest. But the loudest sounds came from the collective chants of the protesters directly aimed at the White House’s occupant.
“Shame. Shame,” they chanted while pointing at the White House. “We see you,” they continued.
At one point, they chanted the name of Sally Yates, the former acting attorney general, calling her an “American hero.”
“Ho ho, Donald Trump has got to go” was a common refrain at this protest as it has been at many of the anti-Trump protests over the past few months.
A coalition of more than a dozen liberal organizations arranged the demonstration.
Jo Comerford, campaign director for MoveOn.org, one of the groups behind Wednesday’s protest, said in a statement that Trump’s firing of Comey has created a “constitutional crisis.” Michael Breen, president and chief executive of the nonprofit Truman National Security Project, said the groups quickly coordinated the protest after hearing of Comey’s firing.
“My organization does not do a lot of protests. I’m not an activist,” Breen said. “But we felt this was an extraordinary moment.”
Another protest calling for more transparency in possible Trump and Russia connections is planned for June 3 near the White House. And like many protests in the Trump era, the March for Truth started on Twitter.
Jordan Uhl, a liberal D.C. resident who is active on Twitter, said he noticed social media users inquiring about a protest urging the government to conduct an “urgent and impartial” investigation into Russia’s alleged ties to the Trump campaign and interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Uhl — along with Justin Hendrix and Andrea Chalupa, two other active social media users who had never met in person — decided to organize March for Truth demonstrations in Washington and New York on June 3 to, as the event’s tagline states, restore “faith in American government.”
The protest was planned before Trump fired Comey.
Uhl said the June protests initially were a response, in part, to reports that the congressional investigations into Russia were disorganized and understaffed. Now, he said, the demonstrations are more dire and will also call for the appointment of a special prosecutor to lead an independent Russia investigation.
“I’m not personally of a mind-set that this goes really deep and everything is connected to Russia,” said Uhl, who runs a progressive site called the Opposition. “At the same time, whatever happened — and it’s probably the most American thing to do — we need to have a fair inquiry.”
Since they announced the March for Truth last week, organizers have received inquiries from activists across the country looking to get involved, according to Uhl. They now expect more than 30 other smaller protests in cities nationwide on June 3.
Organizers are planning for thousands to attend the demonstration that day in front of the White House at Lafayette Square, Uhl said.
Organizers said they have applied for permits through the National Park Service. The Park Service did not respond to an inquiry about the permits.
“This may come off as partisan, but it’s not, it’s open to everyone,” he said. “It will just be people gathering, with signs and chants, to show that this is something people are passionate about because Trump consistently insists that people don’t care.”